UI Development

What’s new in Edge Chromium

Microsoft Edge is a web browser developed by Microsoft in the year 2015. It was a replacement and an improvement to the obsolete IE. Edge was initially developed for Windows 10 and Xbox One. But later it was made available for Mac OS, android and iOS post 2017. Since then Edge had 10+ stable releases. Out of which the current stable version we are using is the Edge 44, however, the most recent stable release is the Chromium-based Edge(80.0.361.69). This blog is about this new release which is a notable transformation from the old version.

Edge was first launched with its own rendering engine “EdgeHTML” and its own JavaScript engine “Chakra”. It was first released as an experimental option in Internet Explorer 11 as part of the Windows 10 preview version. EdgeHTML is written in C++ to easily add web browsing functionality to web applications.

What’s new

There are quite a lot of changes in the new update of Edge to begin with. The Chromium based Edge was first released in 2020 as version 79.0.309. The main and the basic change we observe is the migration of the rendering engine Microsoft used. This new Edge uses Blink and V8 engines which run chromium.

The logo

Along with the many changes the Edge got a new upgrade in the logo part as well. The new logo resembles the chrome logo and also gives the impression of the English alphabet ‘e’.

The rendering engine

EdgeHTML can only run on Windows OS without emulation. But Blink can be run on all available Operating Systems except for iOS without emulation. This change in the engine is to overcome the cross-browser compatibility issue.

Look and Feel

Even though Edge is adapting the chromium’s engines it doesn’t mean that Edge will be looking the same as chrome. For an end-user, Edge will be the same as the previous version with small upgrades and totally different from chrome as it always has been.

The only similarity we can find is the DevTools. In Edge, the DevTools will look the same as Chrome.

Cross-platform compatibility

As we know the Edge is available on all platforms and devices, the data rotates around the place. The saved passwords, history, favorites, bookmarks and certain settings can roam around all the connected devices. Also all the chrome extensions will be compatible with Edge i.e., we can still use the same extensions on Edge too.

4K streaming

Edge supports Netflix streaming  in 4K Ultra, Dolby Audio and Dolby Vision on Windows 10.

Collections

Integrated with Office 365, Collections makes it easier than ever to collect, organize, share and export web content to Word or Excel.

Privacy

Trackers

Ever wondered how the ads we get on the websites are so close to our browsing history. Well, its because of the ‘trackers’. The trackers are used by websites to collect data about a user’s browsing patterns. This data mostly contains about the websites the user visited, contents user clicked. Some trackers collect data across multiple sites and based on that data similar ads are showed on different websites.

The new Microsoft Edge is designed to detect and block known trackers. It lets the user decide what trackers to block. The user can choose from three levels of tracking prevention: Basic, Balanced, and Strict. Balanced is selected as the default. All three options block potentially harmful trackers—trackers that are detect as cryptomining or fingerprinting.

SmartScreen

It’s an in-built feature in the Edge from a long time. It helps the user identify phishing and malware websites. Based on the website’s behavior this feature determines if the website is safe or not. If the page is suspicious or if the URL is in the reported black-list, the user gets a warning message and the site will be blocked for safety reasons.

For Developers

With this new update the Edge is on par with Chrome in terms of functionality. Also the Edge is closer than ever to W3 standards. Microsoft can now contribute new capabilities to the Chromium project, for the benefit of all browsers, users and developers.

With the Chromium, the Edge is now fully compatible with most automated testing frameworks such as Selenium. The user need to just download the corresponding MSEdge driver for it. The users can even run automated tests through IE11 by downloading corresponding driver for IE11.

As provided by The Microsoft, Edge has 3 channels to work on testing new features. Namely: canary, dev, beta. Each has a different way to provide updates and differing levels of support for experimental features.For a developer, Dev channel is best suggested. Because Beta channels release major updates every 6 months and Canary releases updates every single night, so, its best to choose Dev channel as it releases updates on weekly basis.

3D view

Another amazing cool update I found is the 3D view. It helps the developer understand the z-index stacking context on the web page. This feature is available by default in Canary branch and for other branches we can enable it in “experiments” settings. This is how the user interface looks like:

Dark Theme

Yes, it does come in black. Along with most of the famous applications going dark themed, the new Edge has also been provided with dark theme.

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